The best anticancer vegetables

In 2008, the World Health Organisation (WHO) identified cancer as one of the four leading threats to human health and development (along with cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes). We previously saw that in most cases cancer is a preventable disease, and that plant-based foods slow and may even reverse the growth of cancer cells. But from all the plant-based foods out there, which is best at blocking human cancer cells growth? Moreover, in terms of nutrient density (nutrients per calorie) what is the best food out there?

The most nutrient-dense class of foods is by far vegetables. In 2009 a fascinating study was published, checking the effect of 34 common vegetables against 8 different types of human cancers: breast cancer, brain tumors, kidney cancer, lung cancer, childhood brain tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and stomach cancer. The scientists checked the effect of each one of the vegetables on the various cancer cells in a petri dish.

The study showed that the vegetables that people typically eat, like potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, iceberg lettuce barely affect the growth of cancer cells. The study, however, revealed one clear winner. There is one vegetable that completely 100% stopped cancer growth in 7 out of the 8 tumors: garlic! It is #1 against breast cancer and brain tumors, #2 against kidney cancer, lung cancer, childhood brain tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and stomach cancer.

Does this mean that garlic is toxic to all cells, including healthy human cells? They tested for that. Vegetables, and in particular garlic, are selective in their effect. They go after the cancer cells but leave the normal cells alone.

The study showed that there are two superfood classes of vegetables most adept at blocking human cancer cell growth in a petri dish. Cruciferous vegetables (including kale, cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy and broccoli) and allium vegetables like onion, garlic, chives and leeks. Remember this fact next time your picking your veggies ;). The video below discusses further the results of the study – highly recommended!

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Cancer worldwide – a global picture


D. Boivin, S. Lamy, S. Lord-Dufour, J. Jackson, E. Beaulieu, M. C^ote, A. Moghrabi, S. Barrette, D. Gingras, and R. Beliveau. Antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of common vegetables: A comparative study. Food Chem., 112(2):374{380, 2009.